Photoshop: Auto-Align and Auto-Blend evolution

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  • Updated 7 months ago
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As a jewelry photographer, I find myself consistently using the Auto-Align and Auto-Blend functions. I have two suggestions that I think would be easy enough to implement, but offer increased functionality, versatility, and create better quality results. This is all speculation and theory off of what I have seen when focus stacking 40mp images. My understanding of how these functions analyze and produce their results could be WAY off.

When focus stacking using typical procedure is to use a rail to move the camera on a fixed plane. With auto align, it will scale any and all of the images/layers I have in order to find common ground. I would like to see an option to either pick a layer or designate an image that would be used as the reference point. This layer/image would be unaltered by auto-align and the remaining items used would be adjusted to match that particular reference point.


If auto-align increases the scale of am image their is an automatic quality loss albeit small. By selecting the image/layer in the sequence that is furthest from the camera, the remaining images would be scaled down and that loss would be negligible as pixels would be dropped anyways. I would be able to retain maximum sharpness with this procedure and images would not be scaled larger than their original size.


I have two ideas for this function that I feel are critical. I adore using the Seamless Tones checkbox until I have the occasional scenario where I need to adjust final layer masks. With this option on Photoshop modifies the original image to make seamless tones. We need to find a way around this, or to supplement it in a way that if an individual were to modify a layer mask, that manipulation could be corrected without attempting to use auto-blend with the function off. I will leave the solution to that to minds greater than my own.

The second change/addition I would like to see is an option to disable the creation of the layer mask for the bottom layer/image. Being that it is the last layer, there is no reason to spend time masking/modifying the layer as there isn't another one following it.

Let me know what you think or if you need examples/further explanation!

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Drew Caldwell

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Posted 6 years ago

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Joshua Coleman

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I strongly agree with your first point on auto-blending. I almost always opt to manually edit my macro stacks because I cannot edit the imperfections from photoshop's automation. I would love for photoshop to apply a feathered mask without making changes to the image file. That way I can edit the mask to make any improvements without running into hard artifacts left behind by photoshop's "seamless tones", which I would say %85 of the time is inferior to my manual edits. I do macro of insects and places like leg joints, with more detail and depth, usually need lots of fixing. Or when I want to use one image to fill most of the background, but I can't expand the mask because it reveals the artifacts.

(Wow, I just realized Drew posted this 5 years ago...)
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Joel Sigerson

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And 5 years ago focus stacking worked a lot better. If anything, this is more important than before, because whatever they've changed in the algorithm needs a lot of tweaking. Probably about 50% of my stacks require some manual intervention, and half of those are completely manual.

I'd have switched to dedicated macro software by now, but they're too expensive to buy impulsively, and it's frustrating because I already pay for Photoshop, which used to work.